There will be a time, in the not that distant future, when he will not be around to entertain you any more.

There will be a time, as he is 37 years old, and he likes his deli visits, and his stogie seshes, that James Toney will wake up one morning and say eff it.

I don’t have to do this anymore, he will say to himself.

I don’t have to watch what I eat, in any way, shape or form.

I don’t have to listen to Goossen, and lay off the smokes.

I have my money, I put in my time, and now I’m going to do my best Buster Douglas imitation.

There will be no more talk of scales, and weight, and no more elastic-waistbanded sportswriters are going to tell me that I should have weighed 12 pounds less for my last fight.

I’m done.

Until that unfortunate moment, however, we will still have James Toney around to make this post-Lewis heavyweight era that much more palatable.

And since the performances and athletes haven’t been all that scintillating all too often of late, thank the Lord for that small silver lining.

Toney doesn’t bore you, and the same can’t be said for too many others toiling in the savage science’s northernmost weight division.

Toney had Sam Peter laughing on Tuesday afternoon during a conference call to hype their Sept 2 WBC title shot eliminator at the Staples Center in El Lay, although serious enmity seemed to be threatening to flourish when the two heavyweights traded race based insults that would have brought Al Sharpton to the scene if they were delivered by lighter skinned insult-slingers.

“You talk [bleep], I back it up,” Peter charged. “Talk English.”

“Speak English,” Toney countered. “I’ll beat you like a slave. You slave, you have a Russian (manager Ivaylo Gotzev) behind you. I’ll send you’re [bleed] back on a banana boat.”

Peter didn’t back down. “You don’t know where you’re from,” he said.

“I’m from my mama,” Toney shot back.

“Talk about yourself, not your mama,” Peter returned.

“I’ll knock him out, I’m knocking him out, I’m knocking him out,” Toney said, in case anyone missed it the first two times. “You’re getting knocked out.”

Peter begged to differ. “You’re dreaming,” he said.

The ever-agreeable Dan Goossen provided a cheery counterpoint to the charged back-and-forth, but lest anyone think that he can’t play hardball, I’d consider this: is it any coincidence that this call was scheduled for today, a scant  four days before WBC titleholder Hasim Rahman and Oleg Maskaev get it on in Las Vegas? After all, the Toney/Peter scrap is still three weeks away…

One Goossen point certainly did resonate with me: that his promotion will be offered on Showtime “free” while those wanting to tune in to see if Rahman can shake off history and handle Maskaev on Saturday will have to pony up PPV money to their local cable conglomerate.

Toney agreed that Peter is a credible challenger and indicated that his conditioning will be of a higher caliber than it was against Hasim Rahman in March, when he was overweight and came away with a draw against Rock.

“Every fight is a must win but I’m back to basics like I was against Holyfield (when he weighed 217 pounds),” Toney said. “Against Rahman I should’ve come in better shape but I had a cold. No excuses. But I’m right back in the frying pan. I’ll be in great shape, I wish the fight was today.”

Will there be a target weight that Toney and company are shooting for, he was asked?

“Wherever I’m comfortable,” said the slippery hitter, who turns 38 on Aug. 24. “I haven’t decided. But I wasn’t happy with my last fight. I’m striving for perfection.”

Peter didn’t appear to be phased by the word web that Toney can spin.

“Toney hasn’t fought anyone like me,” said the heavy-handed Nigerian. “This will prove what people think about me wrong…I’m a fighter and a boxer. I’m gonna walk through him.”

Toney approved that fight plan. “I like that,” he said.

“I’m gonna walk through him,” Peter repeated. “The little bit I watched of the Rahman fight, what Rahman couldn’t do, I’ll really work on his body.”

Toney mocked Peter’s accent and made Aboriginal clicking noises to mock the big hitter, but Peter didn’t lose his composure. He said he’d KO Toney and told the veteran wordsmith to shut up when he was talking.

But those potentially touchy launches were dismissed by the end of the call, when Peter thanked Toney for the opportunity and Toney ran through his list of people to thank.


I confess to feeling a touch of pity for Sechew Powell, who looked so confident coming in to the ring against Kassim Ouma, and rather rapidly found out that Ouma is still on a different plane than the young Brooklyn middleweight.

Powell looked like a poor sap armed with a can of Raid, blasting away at a hornet’s nest. He blasts, hits a couple of those tiny savages, but quickly gets stung by five buzzing beasts.

If I were to play armchair trainer, I’d suggest Ouma occasionally set down on his punches, and maybe one out of every ten tosses, throw a home-run ball. A really nasty heave with murderous intent.

It would be good to change his rhythm, it might land and it also makes an impression on the judges…

—I’ve been assured by an unimpeachable source that John Duddy really did overdo it and was felled by heat prostration, causing him to pull out of his Aug. 10 scrap. The Derry middleweight didn’t make allowances for the hellish heat that broiled the Big Apple last week and he paid for it…It’s not like word trickled out that Carlos Bojorquez looked 24, not 34, and would be too much for Duddy…